Think and Grow Rich is a self-improvement book written by Napoleon Hill in 1937. It’s based on the idea that if we can learn to think like the rich we can discover wealth and success. But the book doesn’t focus solely on financial success, Hill defines riches in broader terms, encompassing not only monetary wealth but also personal fulfilment, meaningful relationships, and overall well-being. He encourages readers to align their thoughts, beliefs, and actions with their desired outcomes in all areas of life.
Let’s start with the most important question. Does Think and Grow Rich actually help you to make money?
This isn’t a guide for practical ways to make money. As the name suggests, it focuses on the principles and mindset that leads to wealth. It distills everything you need to know into 13 steps to riches. I’ve read many books on wealth and Think and Grow Rich has some of the most well-rounded and timeless advice. It acknowledges the importance of everything from goals, organised planning and good leadership qualities to developing self confidence, harnessing sexual energy, positive emotions, and creative imagination. Some of the 13 steps are abstract at times, going into telepathy and sixth senses to reinforce key points but the author balances this out with actionable steps you can apply in your life and business.
Overall, I believe applying the information in this book consistently to your life will lead to some financial success. But it doesn’t paint the whole picture, and in order to truly execute what you learn requires further reading. It tells you the importance of creating good habits and self discipline but dedicates very little time to explore how to follow through without reverting back to old ways. It will get you to evaluate key aspects of your life and serve as a springboard on your self-improvement journey. I find myself revisiting it from time to time.
This book is a great motivator in the way it’s written. In the preface, for example, Napolean Hill teases a secret he was told from Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest Americans in history. It is repeated throughout the book only to be discovered by those who are ready to see it. This captures the curiosity to follow closely and keep reading.
It’s also made compelling by using famous public figures such as Henry Ford, Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller and Thomas Edison to exemplify stories about success. Who doesn’t want to hear about the insights of one of the most well known inventors or a businessman whose family is still worth hundreds of billions nearly a century later? The revised version of Think and Grow Rich tries to add more recent examples like Bill Gates, which underscores some of its biggest flaws. Firstly, many of the wealthy people he interviewed are rather unrelatable or unknown to young readers, who are arguably in need of money and mindset advice the most.
Attempts to modernise the examples in the writing sometimes falls on deaf ears. Keeping in mind this is a book about getting rich, the version expanded by Athur R. Pell includes a paragraph about Martin Luther King and I quote “his deep faith in his belief in human rights and dignity for all people, led men and women of all races, religions and beliefs to join in his struggle”. This unnecessary addition fails to reinforce the core point of the chapter on faith, which is to train your mind at a subconscious level to believe you can succeed. Because your subconscious mind translates into its physical equivalent, if it’s filled with fear, doubt and disbelief that results in negative qualities like giving up easily or being indecisive. Such insight is profound and articulated with purpose; a stark contrast to the jarring platitudes thrown in for the sake of modernisation. However, the contributing author doesn’t interject too much like this so it’s not a huge issue.
There are times when advice seems more applicable to men than women. For example, chapter 11 discusses ‘sex transmutations’ as this idea of harnessing sex energy to develop a ‘keenness of imagination, courage, willpower, persistence and creative ability’ to help you succeed. Men are more incentivised by this emotional desire because men who are more successful in their careers have more sex, and more dating prospects. Women already have options and the motivation for wealth isn’t underpinned by sex but rather status, security, and a sense of worth. Maybe sex transmutations are beneficial for them but certainly the merit of this energy transference comes from the male experience.
- A lot of success is predicated on defining a goal and a burning desire to achieve it. That desire consumes all your energy, effort and willpower. This includes taking the time to acquire specialist knowledge based on what is required to meet your goals.
- Use the concept of the “Mastermind” group which refers to the power of collective knowledge and collaboration. Hill highlights the significance of surrounding oneself with like-minded individuals who can offer support, guidance, and expertise, ultimately amplifying one’s chances of success.
- Faith plays a role key in your ability to be resilient in the face of adversity and achieve success. This involves building self confidence so you believe in your ability to take action, be self-reliant, and form positive attitudes towards others to assist in your success.
- Practice daily autosuggestions. These are identical to affirmations and support the notion that desires held in your mind eventually seek physical expression to move towards your goal. Autosuggestions enter the subconscious mind and become second nature.
- Good leaders think about others, show good character, assume responsibility, and lead by example. Bad leaders are adversarial, inattentive, selfish, and lead using their authority rather than inspire the people around them.
- Negative emotions sabotage your success. Positive and negative emotions can’t occupy the mind at the same time so you should make positive emotions the dominating influence on your mind through habitual use of 7 emotions: desire, faith, love, sex, enthusiasm, romance, and hope.